Lessons from the vehicle-to-grid integration summit in Denmark

Author: Sjoerd Moorman

Last week Sjoerd Moorman represented EVConsult in Denmark at the vehicle-to-grid integration summit at the DTU – Technical University of Denmark. The two-day event was aimed to congregate “A Movement Of Worldwide V2G Demonstrators”. It brought together experts from academia and industry, with new players in this field like E.ON and Wallbox, as well as more experienced parties such as Nissan, Nuvve and Enel. The first day was focused on sharing learnings from V2G demonstrators in Denmark, with the second day geared towards sharing international experience. EVConsult kicked off this second day together with our partner Everoze by presenting our world-first V2G map and sharing learnings from projects around the globe.

Note: we use the general term V2G for all types of services enabled by bi-directional energy transfer from/to plug-in electric vehicles. This includes vehicle-to-home (V2H) and vehicle-to-building (V2B).

Main message: Vehicle-to-grid has entered the stage of commercial scale-up

The main message of the conference, and similarly in our report, is that vehicle-to-grid has been road tested in many countries from the Netherlands, to Japan and the US. Vehicle-to-grid has been demonstrated technically feasible, and in some cases also commercially. The key question that remains is how this innovation may scale up, and what is required for it to do so. I will try to answer that question based on our own experience in smart charging and vehicle-to-grid projects, complemented with insights from many experts in the field. But before I do, let me first take step back and zoom out.

As with many innovations, if we regard V2G development, we can identify three main phases:

  1. Technological demonstration
  2. Commercial scale-up
  3. Mainstream adoption

We have just entered the second phase. This will see a huge increase of V2G deployment, new market players, differentiation in application strategy, customer offer and business models. But this phase still requires many efforts to be made to make V2G a reality.

Certainly many barriers still remain, these have been identified in our V2G Global Roadtrip report, in which first-hand experiences from projects worldwide have been logged and summarized.

Lessons from the Parker VGI summit

Many open questions were answered, and many uncertainties subverted. Below is a summary:

  • VGI technology works and is moving towards universal standards
  • V2G has business potential
  • V2G can supply many types of grid services, which vary widely in revenue, from €10 to €1,800 per year
  • Low tax and regulation free zones are key to vanguard position
  • Battery degradation is small (calendar aging is more impactful than V2G or driving), but should still be taken into account.
  • Improvements in charger power, or charger efficiency, substantially increase profit

Naturally this paints a positive picture, but still big steps have to be taken to achieve scale up for V2G.

Is V2G really ever going to take off?

Now, some of you will argue that V2G will never be adopted mainstream, and it’s just a dream. Well, let me tell you that last year even I – a firm V2G believer – have been amazed about how fast the development of V2G has happened. In a way, I have experienced the hype cyclethat innovations go through. Starting with sharply rising expectations about its potential, then through learning about the barriers to realization I almost saw my own dream falling apart, though finally moving out of this valley towards enlightenment of how this can indeed gradually become a reality.

My personal V2G hype cycle

Development of new-generation chargers

A main driver is of course the development of bi-directional chargers, a necessity for supplying V2X services. I firmly believe that the extra cost of a bi-directional charger compared to a smart, connected uni-directional charger will be marginal in 5 years’ time. This will make it almost a no-brainer in many use-cases. Similar to the current step-up to a smart charger from a ‘dumb’ charger. This is because the main requirement for the cost to come down is not necessarily years of technological innovation, no what we need is: SCALE. One of the large power electronics manufacturers have indicates that when large (>100,000 units) are requested, the price can come down drastically, thereby approaching that of a smart charger.

2019 is the year in which what we call “2ndgeneration” V2G chargers are becoming commercially available. Players like NewMotion and Ovo are offering bi-directional DC chargers that have a compact and attractive wallbox design, high efficiency (92-98%), and lower cost than currently on the market. These are (still) based on the CHAdeMO protocol. Furthermore, new entries like the company Wallbox have presented a ultra-compact charger design with advanced user interface through voice command, its release is expected mid 2019.

What is needed for scale up through commercial rollout?

In our view, the following key factors are required for large-scale deployment of V2G:

  • Inclusion of European- and American-made car models, through CCS / OCPP standard
  • involve EV driver by attractive, hassle-free proposition, like free charger or even free charging
  • efficient, compact, user-friendly and inexpensive new-gen bi-directional chargers
  • unlock value on DSO level through adequate pricing and focus on stacking of services
  • strong collaboration among stakeholders, from OEMs, to CPOs, utilities, aggregators, etc.
  • and government support through promoting rollouts and removing regulatory barriers

And what is still to come?

Looking a bit further ahead in to the future, around 2020-2025 we expect to see a 3rdgeneration of bi-directional charging to be rolled out. This will be a further evolution of DC charging, and it will be integrated on-board AC bi-directional charging. For both we will see the CCS standard to be adopted, making virtually all electric vehicles “V2G-ready”. By incorporating the charger into the car production line, both cost and weight can be brought down dramatically. Furthermore, for the user there will be an attractive and hassle-free interface through integration with connected car platforms and/or your smartphone app. This will be combined with minimal intelligence in the external home/office/public AC charger.

Practice what you preach – visiting a landmark V2G project that proves there is real money to be made

To round up my trip, I’ve visited the V2G project at Frederiksberg Forsyning, a utility in a part of Copenhagen. (many thanks to Martin Messer Thomsen from Nuvve for showing me around). This project has proven that it is possible to supply frequency services with actual vehicles and real drivers, and generate a revenue of up to 1000 EUR per vehicle per year.

This highlight culminated my pilgrimage to Denmark, a country that has really been at the forefront of V2G development and real-world deployment.

Thus, I remain optimistic and believe that there is a bright future ahead for V2G!